WILKES-BARRE — As a youth, Adam Makos spent his summers on Blytheburn Lake listening to his grandfather’s stories of World War II.
Makos must have listened intently because the impressionable young boy — now 31 — has published his second book,“Voices of the Pacific,” and his first offering is number 6 on the New York Times Bestsellers list.
“A Higher Call,” the story of two fighter pilots — an American and a German — was released in December and continues to climb the bestsellers list.
“My grandfathers both served during WWII and inspired me to take interest in that black-and-white era of theirs,” Makos said. “In doing so, I discovered the Greatest Generation at an early age and have been forever changed. I’ve been writing WWII stories since I went to middle school, in Montoursville. So it’s been 16 years now, and I’m still finding new heroes with stories we need to hear.”
Makos’ two grandfathers — Michael Makos, 88, a native of Plymouth now residing in Mountain Top, and Francis Pansili, 87, of Auburn, N.Y. — have inspired him to write stories of World War II veterans to preserve their history and their importance to all Americans.
Michael Makos is scheduled to join his grandson for a book signing beginning at 7 tonight at Barnes & Noble in the Arena Hub Plaza.
“I can almost track the moment I started on this journey,” Makos said. “I remember we would fly remote-controlled aircraft and build plastic models and go to air show at the (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) airport.”
Makos said he was in the eighth grade when his interest in World War II peaked. From there, preserving the history of the war’s veterans became his life’s passion.
“It’s important to remember,” he said. “Not many young people have a burning interest in World War II and its heroes.”
Makos and his siblings all were exposed to these heroes at an early age and learned to appreciate them. “Then we started on this mission to preserve their stories,” he said.
“The ranks are fading away,” he said. “Most are in their late 80s or early 90s. We see how important their stories are and we want them preserved so they can be appreciated by future generations.”
When Valor Studios Inc., a publisher of military artwork and a history magazine owned by the Makos family, began publishing its newsletter, Michael Makos, Adam’s grandfather, was the first subject he wrote about.
“Voices of the Pacific” is a very different book from “A Higher Call,” he said. It’s proof that all war stories don’t have a happy ending, he said, “yet they can still be incredibly powerful.”
“A Higher Call” was very much a story of chivalry and mercy, Makos said. “Voices of the Pacific” is about Marines and how they became stronger, like supermen, as the hardships they faced became more brutal and more exhausting.
The Valor Studios website said this about “Voice of the Pacific”: “These are the stories from 15 WWII Marines, compiled by Adam Makos and Marcus Brotherton, but left unfiltered and in the words of the Marines who were there. Unflinching, brutal, and relentless, Voices of the Pacific will leave a reader gasping for air and dumbstruck in awe of the old heroes who won the Pacific war with bare hands, bayonets, and guts.”